Since Lord of the Rings is both my favorite book and movie series, this was a big one for me since The Hobbit comes in a close second. Suffice it to say it was worth the wait…
You may have heard bad things about the film based on early reviews of the 48 HFR version. I haven’t seen that version yet but will do a bonus review of it since I’m both a filmmaker geek and a Tolkien geek. I saw the regular IMAX version first (I will be seeing each format) and thought it was beautiful. The colors are rich and visually it ties in well with LOTR’s feel while still maintaining it’s own identity. It’s more unified with LOTR than it is mimicking it in terms of visual aesthetics.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is of course Bilbo’s tale this time around as being told to Frodo. Nicely, there are some ties in with LOTR right away and you’re taken right back into that world just prior to Frodo inheriting the one ring. It starts as something that feels very familiar and comfortable and then gets to be exciting pretty quickly since there is plenty of exciting sequences full of action and tension as well as great dialog delivered by excellent talent. Moments from the book are celebrated with some of the songs from the book included courtesy of the dwarves Balin, Dwalin, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Fili, Kili, Oin, Gloin, Nori, Dori, and of course, Ori.
The story is a bit modified as it will be told in 3 films that when finished will serve as a bridge to the Lord of the Rings. The classic story of the dwarves, Gollum / the ring, Smaug, and Bilbo is all here including some great characters from LOTR as well with Elrond, Galadriel, Frodo and more. One of the writing credits listed in the film is for Guillermo del Toro who was originally slated to direct but stepped down due to delays over a 2 year period. Luckily, Peter Jackson decided to helm the films. It’s great to see the way he brought certain scenes from the book to life, such as the underground goblin kingdom and the trolls being turned to stone.
The talented cast turn in command performances all around and includes Martin Freeman as Bilbo, Ian McKellen playing Gandalf, Richard Armitage as Thorin, in addition to Hugo Weaving, Cate Blanchett, Ian Holm, Elijah Wood, Andy Serkis and Christopher Lee.
Rest assured if you appreciated the Lord of the Rings, you won’t be disappointed by The Hobbit.
reviewed by Sean McKnight